With nine games left in the regular season, the Bulls lost its fourth game in a row, and the road to make the playoffs is decidedly uphill.
Chicago made a bold last-ditch rally in the fourth quarter, but came up seconds short as Atlanta, a playoff bound team, held on, 102-100.
The Bulls trailed by 15 points in the second half and climbed its way back into it when Aaron Brook’s basket at 1:40 remaining tied the game. However the Bulls could not break through. Atlanta had the answers down the stretch. The Hawks made 8 of 8 free throws in the last minute, and Jeff Teague’s 2 free-throws with just over six seconds left essentially put the game out of reach.
The Bulls had the ball with eight seconds left and down three points, but Mike Dunleavy Jr missed a layup and he immediately fouled Teague who converted both shots.
Derrick Rose hit a trey at the buzzer to close the gap, but game over.
In his pre-game presser, Coach Fred Hoiberg had some fighting words.
“We got to find a way to bounce back,” he said. “Gotta fight through adversity.”
They almost did, but ended up on the short end of a game that the team needed to climb back into contention for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Chicago is now 2 1/2 games behind Detroit and it plays Detroit in the upcoming games. So, the Bulls have a shot, but those three losses before this game (two to Knicks & Magic), have hurt the team.
Chicago came out strong in the first quarter, with a 31-22 lead. Kyle Korver, the great three-point specialist for the Hawks knew they would be tested.
“We knew they were going to come out and throw a big punch early,” Korber said. “their season is on the line right now.”
The Hawks countered with a 30-14 second quarter taking a 52-45 lead into the half.
Derrick Rose scored 20 points on 8-25 shooting, and his backcourt mate, Jimmy Butler had 15 points on only 5-16 from the floor. That is 13-41 from the two guards; a tough night for both. The Bulls only hit 38.1% of its shots from the field, a telling statistic.
Pau Gasol had another double-double scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. And, Aaron Brooks supplied some timely points off the bench, scoring 16 in the game. Chicago won the rebound battle 58-47.
Chicago goes on the road to play Indiana in the next game.